We are pleased to share with you the introduction from The Shadow Effect: Illuminating the Hidden Power of Your True Self -- the fantastic new book by New York Times best-selling authors and internationally acclaimed teachers Debbie Ford, Deepak Chopra and Marianne Williamson. These three luminaries, each with a signature approach, bring to light the parts of ourselves we deny but that still direct our life. For it is only when we embrace our shadow that we discover the gifts of our authentic nature.
Introduction - Part 1
The conﬂict between who we are and who we want to be is at the core of the human struggle. Duality, in fact, lies at the very centr of the human experience. Life and death, good and evil, hope and resignation coexist in every person and exert their force in every facet of our lives. If we know courage, it is because we have also experienced fear; if we can recognize honesty, it is because we have encountered deceit. And yet most of us deny or ignore our dualistic nature.
If we are living under the assumption that we are only one way or another, inside a limited spectrum of human qualities, then we would have to question why more of us aren’t wholly satisﬁed with our lives right now. Why do we have access to so much wisdom yet fail to have the strength and courage to act upon our good intentions by making powerful choices? And most important, why do we continue to act out in ways that go against our value system and all that we stand for? We will assert that it is because of our unexamined life, our darker self, our shadow self where our unclaimed power lies hidden. It is here, in this least likely place, that we will ﬁnd the key to unlock our strength, our happiness, and our ability to live out our dreams.
We have been conditioned to fear the shadow side of life and the shadow side of ourselves. When we catch ourselves thinking a dark thought or acting out in a behavior that we feel is unacceptable, we run, just like a groundhog, back into our hole and hide, hoping, praying, it will disappear before we venture out again. Why do we do this? Because we are afraid that no matter how hard we try, we will never be able to escape from this part of ourselves. And although ignoring or repressing our dark side is the norm, the sobering truth is that running from the shadow only intensiﬁes its power. Denying it only leads to more pain, suffering, regret, and resignation. If we fail to take responsibility and extract the wisdom that has been hidden beneath the surface of our conscious minds, the shadow will take charge, and instead of us being able to have control over it, the shadow winds up having control over us, triggering the shadow effect. Our dark side then starts making our decisions for us, stripping us of our right to make conscious choices whether it’s what food we will eat, how much money we will spend, or what addiction we will succumb to. Our shadow incites us to act out in ways we never imagined we could and to waste our vital energy on bad habits and repetitive behaviors. Our shadow keeps us from full self-expression, from speaking our truth, and from living an authentic life. It is only by embracing our duality that we free ourselves of the behaviors that can potentially bring us down. If we don’t acknowledge all of who we are, we are guaranteed to be blindsided by the shadow effect.
The shadow effect is everywhere. Evidence of its pervasiveness can be seen in every aspect of our lives. We read about it online. We watch it on the nightly news, and we can see it in our friends, our family, and strangers on the street. And perhaps most signiﬁcant, we can recognize it in our thoughts, see it in our behaviors, and feel it in our interactions with others. We worry that shining a light on this darkness will cause us to feel great shame or, even worse, to act out our worst nightmare. We become scared of what we will ﬁnd if we look inside ourselves, so instead we bury our heads and refuse to face our shadow sides.
Copyright © 2010 by Deepak Chopra and Rita Chopra Family Trust, Debbie Ford, and Marianne Williamson. Reprinted by permission of HarperOne.